It is something you will never get over because you will never forget your horse. Your
horses memory will live on with you.
I lost one on November 30, 1985 Got her on Dec. 25th 1979 to a barn accident
I lost my daughters first pony on April 29, 1998 complications from an uper respitory infection
I lost my gelding on May 8, 1998 to a pasture accident. Burried him next to the daughters pony
I lost my life long horse on February 13, 2003 he was 33 years old had a heart attatck survived it went right in to shut down. Burried him with almost two foot of frost line.
Each one of theese horses was a part of me. For as long as I am alive they will live on
in my memories.
It does over time get easier to handle. Yes you will find your self crying on occasion
or smiling because you remember something fun you did with them. Or asking a riding
buddy do you remember when...........But is something that will never go away, at least
for me it hasn't.
Compound loss ain't pretty. Though no one in the following situation passed away, I still lost them in a way. It's not the same as what you're going through, but it's similar enough that I wanted to let you know you are not the only one who is or has or will go through this.
I found out my trainer lied to me about drugging my horse at a show that I didn't go to, and he was fired from the barn. Then I realized that my dad, despite his good intentions, is a TERRIBLE person for me to confide in because his truly just trying to help only make me feel worse. Not too long after that, I found out the first boy I ever loved was cheating on me... with my ex best friend. Lots of loss. It took me a long time to recognize that dealing with all three of those at a similar time was a LOT harder than dealing with one at a time, back to back. You've lost two important influences in your life, and in this kind of situation 2+2=6.
Therapy should help. From my own experience I do want to encourage you, once you feel safe enough in the therapeutic environment, to trust that your CAN be brave enough to let the fullness of your grief hit you. Your therapist will keep it from devouring you, and you can start to air out those corners that really need it. It took me a long time to learn that my sadness is NOT a endless well, and that I will recover when I take the emotional plunge. Once I did that, I was a lot better at moderating my emotions at other times, too. It wasn't, "I must hold this all back now and forever because I'm afraid of how sad I can feel"... it became "I must hold this back because I'm in the middle of the store but when I get in the car, I'm going to let it happen. And I'll do it again when I get home if I want to". Practicing in the safe environment of therapy goes a long way towards allowing you to skillfully act when you're outside of therapy and get hit with this stuff, as is inevitable.
And if you DO figure out a way people can help... let them know! I finally told my dad that when I come to him upset about something, I just want him to listen and say, "Oh my, you poor thing, let me offer you sympathy" and give me a hug, not launch into Dad-must-fix-it-NOW mode. When I'm upset and moody, I tell my close friends that I want to be around them but I don't want to interact. I want to be a passenger for the next few hours, not an active director. Not only do I get what I'm looking for, but I'm also able to help those who truly want to help me, well, help me!
I haven't really grieved the loss of my cat of 18 years yet. Too busy... ignoring the fact that I'm still upset and pretending that I'm "psychologically well adjusted"... lame stuff. Your post has inspired me to walk the walk and take the time out to sit and cry and talk about him and start chipping away at all the tears I have built up as a reflection of all the strong, wonderful feelings I have about my time with him.
With time you start to remember the good and the pain fades to a dull ache and then becomes more distant.
Its just this year that I can watch videos of my horse that I lost 4 years ago without having to hold back tears. Now I find that watching them triggers happy memories with him. Earlier it just reminded me of the loss and the gap in my life.
I'm not into animal communicators and therapy and all that "stuff". I'm of the opinion that it's normal and proper to feel pain and sadness and to grieve and it's something you just go through and time sorts it out if you keep a perspective on things.
In the early days of loss and grief though I highly recommend total indulgence and self pity and Puccini's La Boheme or Madam Butterfly at full volume with a malt whiskey and box of tissues. If anyone asks if you're o.k. then snap back "OF COURSE NOT!". It works for me
Time, which flies when you so desperately need it and drags at times like this, when it helps you heal, is such a miraculous thing. But even now it is working hard at smoothing grief's raw edges. And forever continues to do so.
As others have said - TIME. You never forget, you don't want to forget and you shouldn't forget. Grief IS the price we pay, and we know that going in. We can't give them immortality , but we love them while they're here- that's all we can do. I lost my Lacey at teh beginning of December and I'm missing her terribly, but with that comes the knowledge that she passed at the right time for both of us. With this weather we've been having I know she wouldn't have made it through. She would have fallen and we wouldn't have been able to get her up. She was ready and I'm sure yours was too. I know it's easy for us to say remember the good times. It's hard. I am finding it easier than I ever thought I would because I know it was the right time for her. I've lost 4 horses over the years , prior to Lacey , one of them a 7 month old, and they were all hard to let go- but they are all in a better place now. I know, and I'm sure you do , too that it was the best gift you could give. Grieve, cry , even yell. It's not fair, but it's a fact we have to deal with , each in our own time frame. We're all here for you and we have each other's shoulders to cry on, We do understand.
We've all been there and it is never easy. This board is a wonderful place to go to hear from and 'talk' to folks who truely understand. Often friends and family are just not enough. They have never had that special bond with a horse and just don't understand.
Grief is part of life, and part of being a healthy human being. Remembering a beloved animal often is painful, but it's a part of a rich and beautiful life, and a very good life, to care for animals and to have them in our lives.
The feeling a person gets from caring for and riding a horse really is different from all other types of relationships with other animals. Horses have a power yet a vulnerability that appeals deeply to the human heart in a way no other animal quite does. That they carry us and we get a glimpse of what it means to be able to run and jump and have that power means we have a special bond with them. That with all that grace and power they look to us for care makes it even more unique.
But don't measure your love by how miserable you are...if you're actually getting depressed, and life is really getting impossibly difficult and feeling empty, rather than just struggling, seek help.
In April 2005, I lost my son's 4 year old gelding to a preventable pasture accident that the BO covered up/lied about (she blamed my pony & tried to convince me to put her down ) The shock of losing him so suddenly sent me into a tailspin. I had 3 other horses of my own & a barn full of others to care for, so I threw myself into their care till I could leave that hellish place a month later. About the same time, I had lost my professional job, had a couple temporary ones & was heading toward divorce, so home life wasn't exactly pleasant either.
I'd been a dedicated show rider (took 3 at a time most shows), but I stopped riding completely. I've only been to one show (July 2005) since Marcus died. Since then, I think I've ridden a grand total of less than 2 dozen times (though I did lose a year to a cross country move followed by cancer treatment).
I also lost my 34 year old gelding to old age two years ago this month. He'd remained in Wisconsin due to his age, so I was not there when he was put down. He was my first (and third) horse and remains the only one of my animals that I was not with at the moment of death.
Someone, also a horse owner, recently told me I wasn't a "real horsewoman" or some hogwash, because I didn't ride--I just groomed occasionally & paid my bills. Apparently I just owned them for bragging rights because I had no real reason to avoid riding, as if all the emotional trauma of losing my horses, divorce, moving & illness didn't matter. Pfffffttt. Whatever. My emotions are on their own time-scale, not anyone else's, so bite me ::see-the-birdie::
It's been 4 years of hell and I'm finally feeling ready to get back in the saddle. I've even chosen a new discipline to tackle. I'm starting over with clean slate and new goals.
Give yourself time. You'll heal at your own pace. There's no hurry. (((HUGS)))
I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.
Since Mischief's death 3 wks ago, I've tried to do as much as I can to be practical and "forward moving" about it but I'm constantly reminded of how pre-occupied I am with it all. Here in BC, we pay for gas before we fill our vehicles and I've driven off 4 times now without gassing up after paying. They've gotten used to it now at the station; the last time the attendant just smiled and said"Pump 6 is ready for you again". So I fill up and get out of there and cry most of the way to where I'm going.
It's only been a couple months. Sometimes it doesn't get easier for a few years or more.
On my birthday in April 2006 I lost the pony mare I had been leasing to a bad colic. My last memory of that pony was her grazing in the pasture while the vet got ready and then her giving a huge whinney right before we euthanized her. I will never forget that whinney. It was hard on me because I was really attached to her and she trusted me more than anyone (she was abused in the past)- but it helped to know that we had done the right thing.
Then, a month later my Anglo-Hanoverian, "once in a lifetime" mare, came down with Guttural Pouch Mycosis (an extremely serious infection that attacks the guttural pouch and carotid artery). She hemorrhaged on the way to the medical center and was euthanized when we walked in the door. I remember sitting with her while we waited for a friend to get to the barn with the trailer, just telling her how much I loved her. At that time it really hit me how she was "the one" and how much more I liked her than my gelding (who I still hvae, but is not "the one"). I was devastated.
After I lost the second mare, I still went to care for the horses and spent a lot of extra time there (I spent the nights on weekends like I normally did) but I would go out, do my chores (I worked for my geldings board) and then would just sit around. I didn't ride for 3 months. The BO tried to get me on a horse and I just wouldn't do it. I really did not feel like riding. I stopped spending time with my other gelding (who I still have, but is not "the one" like the anglo-hano. mare). About 3 months after I had to put the anglo-hano. mare down, I started really getting attached to a TB gelding. I had know him since I had been working at the barn and he had a lot of issues with people- a lot of people were afraid of him because he'd make nasty faces at them, and was very food agressive at feeding. But he and I got a special bond and I started really spending a ton of time with him.... while still pretty much ignoring my gelding. I loved that horse. I don't know why, but we had that bond and I was in the process of trading my gelding for him when things went downhill with the BO and I. I still regret not trading for him or buying him.
It's been over 2.5 years and I still miss both mares every day, especially the Anglo-Hano. mare. She was incredible. Had a typical chestnut mare personality but was so trusting and would have been fantastic for anything- we would have kicked butt in eventing or dressage. I still cry at night missing her- it's been 2.5 years.
The biggest thing that helped me was the TB gelding. I grew very attached to him and although he was not my once in a lifetime horse, he was very special to me- so spending time with him really helped. Another thing that really helped was the fact that I HAD to care for the other horses (the BO was on vacation in Florida during the whole ordeal with Anglo-Hano. mare, and I was caring for the horses for 2 weeks while she was gone...)- so I would clean stalls with another boarders older daughter and vent to her about everything. When I was caring for the other horses, I couldn't think about the mare. I had to pay attention to what I was doing at the time.
Give it time- it will take more than a few months. It probably won't ever go away. But it does get easier... and it's ok to cry if you need to.
"People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"
Birdsong, I know what you mean. If I has a dollar for every time I've accidentally called Oliver "Willem" over the last 5 1/2 ywars, I could buy him some obscenely expensive pimp-my-ride super high end Passier weymouth bridle.
This wont' make you feel any better, but it took me 5 years to get over the death of my first chow, Jesse, whom I had since 6 weeks old. She was diagnosed w/cancer, and PTS in her 13th year. It hurt just the same for years afterward.. only comfort I have is knowing we'll meet again one day.
As you will be with your mare. Until then, try to live a good life and look fondly back on the time you had together.
Nothing particular to add here...others have given you good advice! Just wanted to let you know that I understand your pain. I lost my beloved Fire this past August 16, to cancer. She was 25, and I'd had her her whole life. I have her wonderful son, Amos...her precious gift to me, and in whom she lives on...but it doesn't stop me missing her terribly. We had such a history together, Fire and I...I'm just totally lost without her. I'm just taking things a moment at a time. That's all I can do.
Anyway, my heart is with you, and with all the others who have lost their dear ponies/horses.
I'm still broken inside. If I could have died that day, I would have. If I could have traded five years of my life for her to have five more, I would have. I still have a blackness inside that nothing touches. Either time will heal it, or I can learn to live with an emptiness. But right now, I'm still just functioning when it comes to all things horse.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler
"I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl
I have this horrible feeling that, for me, the worst is yet to come.
We were talking yesterday here at the farm about the fact that we no longer have The Bombproof Schoolmaster Horse - one who can keep his wits about him when all others are losing theirs. The one you can rely on to give a young horse a lead over ANYTHING, ANY time, no matter WHO is on his back or in the lines.
That horse was Avery.
I think when the weather breaks and we really start getting all the Baby Quarter Heese out and about - and when I start my unbacked 3 y/o - I'm going to be crying every single day.
It's bad enough now, but it's gonna be worse even then. HRH was not just *my* security blanket - he was eeeeeeeeeeverybody's security blanket.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief
West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
Originally Posted by Kim
I lost my equine friend of 23 years on November 8.
Everyone tells me how well I handled her death and how well I am adjusting to the loss. However, I feel as if I am so "pent up" with sadness inside. It is worse at certain times...I feel like I just want to start crying, and, of course, it always happens at some inopportune time when crying would be inappropriate (such as at work).
I feel like I am doing "all the right things." I am enjoying spending time with my other horse. I have made tributes to my deceased horse; I had cards made and sent them to all of our friends, am planting a tree in the spring in her memory, had an animal communicator, and visited with her previous owner. Friends gave me a beautiful pencil drawing of her and my mom gave me a beautiful horse necklace. I treated myself to a haircut and facial and joined a gym to lose weight. I am being good to myself. Yet I still feel very vulnerable underneath it all -- and I know it is because I am not over this loss. (I am also going to a therapist to help me deal with it.)
Does anyone have any suggestions on helping me deal with this grief? I feel like it is stuck inside because I have been trying so hard to be strong. (Any time it comes to the surface, as I mentioned, it is usually at an inappropiate time.) Does that make any sense?
I lost my beloved Andalusian stallion nearly six years ago. I still miss him every day, and still cry when I think about him. It will take you MUCH longer than a couple of months to heal. Grief is a process, and everyone takes different amounts of time to work through it. You're on the right track with being good to yourself and enjoying your other horses, but that's not going to preclude your pain. It sucks, but you have to just feel the pain when it comes, and go on. It will get better, but it takes a damnably long time. Don't try to avoid it, either; you'll only end up with more issues.
Grief doesn't just stop, it lessens and gets more bearable, but, really, it will never totally go away. I lost my dad 5 years ago, and while I usually am fine, every now and then I end up needing to have a good cry (my family refers to them as "blueberry cobbler moments"...cute story behind that), or just terribly miss him, or am sad that there are things in my life that he will never get to experience with me. I am basically normal. I don't break down in tears at the mere mention of him or when I look at pictures of him, but I still miss his and grieve that he is gone. I'm pretty sure I will do that forever.
I lost an incredible dog almost 4 years ago (Oh my God!). It was very sudden and totally unexpected, and probably even more painful than the initial grief of Dad (probably because we had 10 months to say goodbye to Dad and get comfortable with the idea that he was leaving us). That dog was so much a part of me, and having her suddenly ripped out of my life was tragic...I thought I was going to die. But the initial soul crushing grief eased up, and eased more when I brought a new dog into my life (equally, but very differently as incredible), and now my grief for my wonderful companion is similar to my dad's. I miss her and I think about her, but for the most part I'm ok. I can look at her pictures now without crying (that took a very long time), but every now and then I just really, really miss her.
Same goes with the two incredible horses that were put down within a year of each other. I was heartbroken and I grieved, and I still grieve. But I can think about them without the tears, but every now and then, I need a good cry over them.
So, just take your time. Don't feel you need to be strong. If you need to cry and your in an inappropriate place, quietly excuse yourself to the restroom and allow yourself your cry. IT IS OK, and totally natural and totally understandable. Grieving, especially fresh grief, bites the big one. It is an extremely powerful and raw feeling, but it is natural. If you need to talk or need to comfort, turn to people who get it (sometimes non-horsey friends and family don't), but DO allow yourself your grief and don't feel that you're "not over it yet". You'll never truly be, but at some point you'll realize that the horrible raw feeling isn't so horrible and raw, and it is an ache you can deal with.
I am truly sorry for your loss. Losing loved ones, equine, canine, and human alike, is tough. No matter how much we know that life is finite, when it finally comes to its end, it really always seems far too soon.
Thanks everyone. I'm not sure if any of you have dealt with this, but so many friends, in trying to "say the right thing," have said things like:
"You should be happy, because she lived such a long life."
"You shouldn't be upset, because her death was peaceful."
"She is happy and at peace now, so you shouldn't be upset."
"You have another horse - you should just be happy that you have her."
I AM thankful and happy that Chutney is at peace, but darn it, I miss my lifelong friend!! I know that folks mean well, but hearing these things over and over just makes me feel worse! It makes me feel guilty that I AM upset over losing her...like I shouldn't be, and I think it is part of the reason why my grief is all bottled up inside.
Any insight? I am going to the therapist today, so that will hopefully help.
The crying is the 'down and dirty' part of grieving - go there, own it and cry till you can't cry anymore. You have to do that. Then you can move on. It sucks, full stop. You should be upset, I don't know why people would tell you that you shouldn't be upset, except that they simply can't relate. I had people telling me 'you'll feel better if you go out to this birthday party', when all I wanted to do was to be alone and cry. I always tell people that my horses taught me great things, they were THE MOST IMPORTANT relationships of my life, because they taught me things about compassion and patience and forgiveness and HEART that you can never learn from a human where there are so many other motives involved. They were my partners, and they left a big hole when they went. You're allowed to mourn that ,and you're allowed to take as much time as you need to come to terms with it.
I am so sorry about your loss of Chutney. I agree with the others: you can't put a timetable on healing, but time really does heal. It's different for everyone.
In the past year or so, I have lost my mother in law, my pony, my donkey, my 14 year old dog and my sister. My sister and I were like twins and when she died, I did not think I could survive because the pain just took over and sucked all the life out of me. My grief counselor promised me that time would heal my broken heart but I didn't believe it was possible for anyone to climb out of such a dark place.
But here I am, not all better, but getting there. Time, friends, family, my horses and many unexpected kindnesses along the way have worked their magic and the pain is subsiding little by little. If you are open to these things, they will help. Writing about your lost ones is also a good way to purge the sad thoughts. Slowly, those thoughts will lead to memories that make you smile, and you'll be on your way.
The pain you're feeling right now is the double edge sword we live with when we are lucky enough to love so deeply. ((Hugs)) to you at such a difficult time.